Can you believe Funeral For A Friend have been in our lives for over ten years? Where has the time gone. Kicking off their career with the genre defining LP “Casually Dressed & In Deep Conversation” the Welsh quintet have been a national gem for those who like a bit of bite with their swooping sing-a-longs. A few line-up changes here and there, and a string of stellar records in their wake, the lads are back with a new fired up edge. Bringing it back to basics on a massive thirty-date-plus UK tour, their new album “Conduit” has been hailed by fans and critics alike. Mark Dean caught up with them to find out what has shaped their current direction.
► Your recent records have had a more aggressive approach, similar to “Casually Dressed & In Deep Conversation”. Is there any reason why you have returned to your roots?
Matt: I think there was a time when we were fighting against the style of music which came most naturally to us. We’re definitely sounding a lot more like our early stuff now.
► Would you say it was a band decision?
Matt: Well we took a break as a band and now for the first time we’ve been able to write songs which we love playing. Thats the most important thing to us now, there’s no time limits on albums or people pressuring us to sound a certain way. It’s all about us and our music.
Kris: There was no band meetings or anything. We didn’t sit down one day and say “guys we need to go back to the way we used to play”. It was just a case of it being the music we love to play and acknowledging that. The people in the band now all share the same drive in terms of creativity and what we want to get out of this band musically. That helps drive the sound and focuses the sound too. As before we were all pulling in different directions and the people in the band had different ideas of what they felt worked.
► How have things been with the introduction of your new drummer Pat Lundy?
Matt: Well, he’s brought a whole new vocabulary with him!
Kris: Yeah, all his foreign London slang words! haha. Pat has been great. He’s really allowed us to push the musical playability of our band to another level. He’s raised the bar creativity wise. He has allowed Matt and I – who are probably to most jaded members of the band after being here the longest - to realise how much we enjoy being in this band!
► Now that you mention it, there has been a few changes to the line-up over the years.
Matt: I forget which “generation” of band members we are on now. I think it’s the fourth we are currently on . Never the less, it’s the original ones that matter the most….of course. Haha.
❝I probably would have shelved “Memory and Humanity” and released “Tales Don’t Tell Themselves” under a different band name.❞
► What are your most memorable moments on the road?
Matt: It feels quite sad to say but this happened in the past week. It’s been 10 years as a band and the one thing I want to tell a story about is when we flew into Japan to play one show, which was weird to begin with as it was only one show and then away a day later! But when we landed a massive snowstorm had come out of nowhere. People were leaving their cars left, right and centre on the motorway it was that bad! The guy who was driving us was getting a bit panicked and then we were getting a bit panicked that we wouldn’t make it there. Without a thought – suffering from fifteen hours of flying and travelling – we started pushing.
► The show must go on I guess?
Matt: It wasn’t even a case of that, it was more because it was just so much fun. It was pretty hilarious.
Kris: It was all a good laugh until it got stuck right outside of the hotel and then it just wouldn’t move! It was quite funny.
► Most of the venues on the current tour are much smaller, more intimate affairs. Plus you are playing a very extensive UK tour – thirty plus dates – which most bands don’t attempt these days. How do you compare these venues on this current tour to the likes of a festival?
Kris: You can’t compare them. As a band we feed off the vibe and the energy of the crowd, that’s very hard to do at a festival. The distance now between some stages and the crowd is horrible.
Matt: To be honest with you, unless you are in a tent it’s the worst place to convince people to like your band. Unless they already know you. You don’t usually come across as your best at a festival. Elements come into play and everything else. We always try to convince organisers that we should play in the “tent”.
Kris: It’s relative too. If your band is made for that kind of arena then it suits you. If you’re Coldplay for example, you’re not going to sound great in the Limelight if you know what I mean. You’re gonna need a big PA which can pump your tunes.
Matt: Our attitude as a band just fits the more intimate venues. It’s more intense, and at the moment we have decided to be more selfish and play for ourselves which transfers into better shows for our fans.
► It’s shaping up to be a good year for Welsh music. The Blackout, Bullet For My Valentine and yourselves all releasing records. Do you still feel in touch with the idea of being a “Welsh band”?
Kris: I think Welsh music in general is important to bands when you are starting out. We particularly supported it when we were able to bring out the likes of the bands which you just mentioned out on tour with us. Over the past ten years things have changed massively though. The scene is always changing musically and I guess those bands have pushed us to become better.
► Outside of music and the band what are your interests?
Matt: I am a massive football fan. That’s probably my main hobby. I’m a Liverpool supporter which means it’s not to easy to follow these days. As individuals though I feel like our upbringing plays a big role in our lives. We’d like to think we haven’t changed much as people from when the band started so when we go home family is very important.
► Any regrets over the years?
Matt: There is probably things which I would have done differently, but no regrets per say. The decisions we made wouldn’t have brought us to where we are now so I wouldn’t call them regrets. There is little things. I probably would have shelved “Memory and Humanity” and released “Tales Don’t Tell Themselves” under a different band name.
Kris: I would agree with that.
Matt: But that was just due to pressure on ourselves and other things as well. I would have just learned to say no. Then again, we said yes, here we are and we’re happy.
Kris: Thinking about it I probably would have had less of the pizzas and burgers along the way. If I regret anything it’s probably that. Haha.
► Your new album was released recently, how would you describe it?
Matt: A lot packed into twenty-nine minutes worth of music. People say it’s sounds like “Raining Blood”???
Kris: Well, our version of “Raining Blood”.
► That doesn’t sound too bad to us.
Matt: I think it’s very stripped back and honest. I would like to think we are continuing to push the boundaries for our type of music; bringing intelligent, thought provoking content to the table in terms of aggressive music.
► In some circles you are the band who is recognised as the creator/originator of the “emo” label. How do you guys feel about that? Does it sit comfortably with you?
Matt: I’ve never considered ourselves as an emo band. We have nothing in common with the bands sound wise with the bands who we feel created the genre.
► Is it a label you shy away from?
Matt: I just don’t think it’s applicable to us. The post-hardcore genre I think has more to do with us as a band than anything else. We are a hardcore band. We came from that scene in Wales and we don’t think anything has changed.
Kris: The way I see it, at that time there was not a lot of melody from heavier bands. Around 2003 or so – the dog-end days of Nu-metal – everything was real heavy, everything was one note. So the fact that Matt actually had a melody, and the fact that Matt didn’t just scream every note we were labeled as emo. People in the UK didn’t understand genre labelling like the US did.
Matt: Everybody wants to put a tag on something and once that exists then it begins to grow. It grew and then everybody started to hate it, we just didn’t feel like we should be lumped in with the rest of them. It existed before we came along and even the first generation of bands who were given that tag despised the label as it want’t appropriate to them. In the end it doesn’t give the music and the attitude justice.
Funeral For A Friend’s new album “Conduit” is out now!